While BGC Okanagan has been around for 65 years, you may not be aware that they serve youths up to 24 years of age. Tiffany Taffe, BCG program coordinator, is sharing about the great programs they offer and how volunteers can help make a difference.
“Our mission is to help children and youth discover and achieve their goals and grow up to be healthy and active participants in society,” explains Tiffany. “We provide a safe place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships, and develop skills for life. We serve the North, Central and South Okanagan.”
“The Downtown Youth Drop-in Centre specifically serves youths aged 13-24 years old,” adds Tiffany. “We provide a low barrier, safe space for youth where they can access opportunities, participate in groups and programs geared toward their development and also to participate in recreational activities. Our programming is free to all participants, and we are open Mondays to Fridays, excluding public holidays, from 3pm-8pm”
Tiffany is originally from Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the Okanagan with her family five years ago. She wanted to be an actress and wrote and acted in plays in high school but studied Psychology and has worked to serve the needs of the vulnerable population since arriving in Kelowna.
“I am fairly new to the organization and to my role as Program Coordinator here at the Downtown Youth Drop-in Centre,” says Tiffany. “My work experience has really allowed me to become passionate about this underserved demographic. I wanted to try my best to impact this community positively and BGC Okanagan is an organization whose values align with mine. When I saw the work they do in the community, I wanted to be a part of this team.”
Volunteers have a variety of options for getting involved, however medium to long-term commitments’ work better, depending on the volunteer’s availability and BCGO’s needs. Scheduled routine works better but they also offer flexible hours for volunteers.
“There is a family atmosphere here at the Downtown Youth Centre,” says Tiffany. “We are very inclusive and try to make the environment fun and engaging. Many volunteers are often seen participating with youth in various games such as pool, foosball, Yahtzee etc. Volunteers experience a sense of contribution toward impacting or becoming a positive role model for youths.”
Tiffany also wants to let youth in the community know about the great opportunities to participate in activities. They publish a monthly calendar that includes diverse programs like Dungeons and Dragons, Cooking Class, Community Engagement, Sewing Club and Pool Tournaments. Activities are free to participate in. You can find out more about the activities on their Facebook or Instagram @bcgoyouth or email Tiffany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To volunteer, go to the website www.bcgo.ca and fill out the application. Volunteers do need to pass a criminal record check and participate in an interview. The opportunities are truly rewarding though.
“Volunteering is an engaging experience that offers youths and volunteers a chance to connect. A volunteer gets to use their talents to teach young people various skills and impart knowledge when necessary. Volunteering is fun and improves your well-being when you see how having a positive impact can change a person’s life.”